Academic Innovation: Which Global Institutions are Leading in IP?  

Academic Innovation: Which Global Institutions are Leading in IP?

February 23, 2023

Academic institutions across the globe are playing a vital role in fostering innovation and pushing the boundaries of science and technology. From universities to research centers, the focus on innovation is becoming increasingly important as the world faces new challenges and opportunities in fields ranging from health and medicine to renewable energy and the environment. 

Academic institutions are at the forefront of cutting-edge research, and their scientists, engineers and technologists are dedicated to exploring new ideas and finding innovative solutions to the complex problems facing society today. In many cases, academic institutions are the first to make breakthroughs in their fields, and the insights and ideas generated in their research labs are often the foundation for new products, services and companies that change the world. 

In this article, we cover some of the unique elements of academic innovation and, using insights from the 2023 Innovation Momentum report, highlight some of the institutions across the globe that have developed patent portfolios with particularly high innovation strength. 

Which institutions are leading in academic innovation?  

We see academic innovation on display in our recently published report, Innovation Momentum 2023: The Global Top 100. While the Top 100 includes only companies, several academic and public research institutions also met the same criteria of outstanding Innovation Momentum, which is based on a unique methodology that measures changes in patent portfolio strength over a period of two years. Most are located in the U.S., with others based in China, France, Germany and Korea, and include: 

  • Broad Institute 
  • CNRS 
  • Dalian University of Technology 
  • Dana-Farber 
  • ETRI Korea 
  • Fraunhofer-Gesellschaft 
  • Harvard 
  • Huazhong University of Science and Technology 
  • Mass General Brigham 
  • MIT 
  • Shandong University 
  • Sloan Kettering 
  • Stanford University 
  • University of California 
  • University of Pennsylvania 
  • University of Texas System 
  • Xi´an Jiaotong University 
  • Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique (CNRS) is a national research organization in France mainly focusing on basic research. However, the center is also active in applied sciences.  
  • Founded in 1949, Fraunhofer-Gesellschaft is a research organization with a large number of institutes spread across Germany, working in different fields of applied science. It is the largest applied research and development services organization in Europe.  
  • Electronics and Telecommunications Research Institute (ETRI) is a research organization in Korea that was founded by the Korean government. ETRI is active in technologies such as telecommunications and semiconductors.  
  • Dalian University of Technology is a Chinese university with a large patent portfolio whose growth is likely to have resulted from past government programs designed to incentivize patent filing.  
Accademic Innovation

Caption: Top academic institutions plotted according to Quality vs. Quantity of the respective portfolios.

In the chart above, we can see the portfolios of some of the most innovative academic institutes plotted according to their portfolio’s average quality (measured by Competitive Impact) on the y-axis and Portfolio Size (as of the date of the analysis) on the x-axis. Xi’an Jiaotong University on the extreme lower-right of the chart has a larger Portfolio Size, but its portfolio is of lower quality as compared to Broad Institute featured on the top-left corner of the chart. The size of the bubbles expresses the overall strength of the portfolio as measured by Patent Asset Index, a scientifically validated and industry-proven metric. Patent Asset Index is derived from a combination of the Portfolio Size and average Competitive Impact of the respective portfolio.  

The importance of academic innovation 

One of the key benefits of academic institutions is their interdisciplinary approach to innovation. Many universities and research centers have multiple departments, programs and facilities dedicated to specific fields of study, and they encourage collaboration between these different areas. This fosters cross-disciplinary innovation, which often leads to more innovative and effective solutions to complex problems. For example, a team of scientists and engineers from different departments may work together to develop a new medical device that combines advanced materials with cutting-edge electronics. 

Academic institutions are also an important hub for the next generation of innovators. They offer opportunities for students and researchers to work with leading experts in their fields and gain hands-on experience in cutting-edge research. This is particularly important for fields like engineering, computer science and biotechnology, where innovation is driven by a steady stream of new talent and ideas. 

Another advantage of academic institutions is their freedom to explore new ideas and take risks. Unlike companies that are often focused on short-term results and profits, academic institutions have the luxury of focusing on longer-term goals and pursuing research that may not have immediate applications. This allows them to tackle challenging problems, explore new ideas and develop innovative technologies that can eventually be commercialized and brought to market. 

Commercializing academic IP

Many academic institutions are partnering with industry and government to commercialize their research and bring their innovations to market. This is often done through technology transfer offices, which help researchers and scientists commercialize their work and license their innovations to companies. This assists in bridging the gap between academia and industry, and encourages the sharing of ideas and technologies. 

The focus on innovation at academic institutions is also reflected in the growing number of entrepreneurship programs and start-up incubators that are being established on campuses around the world. These programs provide students, researchers and entrepreneurs with the resources and support they need to turn their ideas into successful businesses. They offer mentorship, access to funding and business incubation services, and help entrepreneurs navigate the challenges of starting and growing a new company. 

Fostering continued academic innovation 

Academic institutions play a critical role in fostering innovation and pushing the boundaries of science and technology. Their interdisciplinary approach, commitment to exploring new ideas and focus on training the next generation of innovators are essential ingredients in creating the next wave of breakthroughs. The continued focus on innovation at academic institutions will be critical to solving the complex challenges facing society today, and building a better, more sustainable future for generations to come. 

To learn more about how we measure innovation momentum, read about innovation across industries and see the Top 100 list of companies, get access to the full 2023 report

Which companies are pioneering the future of science and technology?

Download Innovation Momentum 2023: The Global Top 100 to find out! Using our proprietary patent quality metrics to look at the global patent landscape we list out the Top 100 innovators worldwide. Read the full report to discover which companies are at the forefront of innovation, driving future technologies.

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